Three Sporting Kansas City Academy teams enjoyed perfect starts to the 2021-22 MLS NEXT season on Saturday at sunny Swope Soccer Village, posting shutout victories in Week 1 of the new campaign.
Former Sporting Kansas City great Benny Feilhaber made his U-17 head coaching debut, presiding over a 3-0 win against Chicago Fire FC, before the Sporting KC U-15s claimed a 2-0 triumph versus the same opponent. To round out a successful morning of soccer, the U-14s prevailed 3-0 over Texas-based Total Soccer Club.
Feilhaber and U-17s ride to victory
In Feilhaber's first match at the helm of the U-17s, Sporting wasted no time landing the first punch as Nico Pendleton weaved his way into the penalty area and set up Mataeo Bunbury, who smashed home to give his team a 1-0 advantage.
Bunbury, the younger brother of former Sporting player and current New England Revolution forward Teal Bunbury, doubled his tally in the 19th minute off an assist from Kelly Kipruto. Sporting added icing to the cake in the 56th minute when Braxton Arpachinda bagged a sensational 35-yard free kick to push the score to 3-0. Goalkeeper Matthew Hudson recorded the shutout, solidifying a standout performance to open the season.
U-15s stymy Chicago in 2-0 win
Led by head coach Chris O'Neal, The U-15s followed in the footsteps of the U-17s by taking a first-half lead and never looking back. The breakthrough came near the 30-minute mark when Angel Franco dashed onto an incisive through ball from Anthony Jin and slotted past the goalkeeper to open the scoring.
Goalkeeper Jacob Molinaro made a slew of impressive saves over the course of the game to preserve his clean sheet, and Sporting would put the game out of reach in the 76th minute. Franco notched his second of the match after receiving an impudent pass from Leo Christiano and finishing inside the near post.
U-14s claim 3-0 triumph over Texas counterparts
Under the guidance of head coach Declan Jogi, the U-14s delivered a well-rounded display en route to a 3-0 win over Houston-based Total Soccer Club. Chinelo Robinson led the way with two goals, Kiernan Gaughan also found the back of the net, and a resolute defensive effort kept TSC off the scoresheet.
Up Next: Colorado road trip on Saturday and Sunday
Four Sporting KC Academy teams will take the field next weekend as the early stages of the 2021-22 MLS NEXT season continue. On Saturday, the U-14s, U-15s and U-17s will visit the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park with action kicking off at 11 a.m. CT.
On Sunday, the U-19s will play their season opener in one of four games as they join the U-14s, U-15s and U-17s in visiting Real Colorado. Fans can follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for live updates next weekend and throughout the year.